MEDEVAC Welcome Back program implemented

30 Nov 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

When one of our warriors is injured in the field of battle, there will always be the inconvenient element of time which presents itself from when the injury occurs to when medical treatment is reached. As war wages on, so do the programs implemented to reduce the injury/treatment transition time and bring our warriors home.

The most recent of these initiatives for Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune is the MEDEVAC Welcome Back program, the purpose of which is to expedite the travel time of wounded Marines or sailors from the front lines to the hospital’s doors.

“After they come in from Andrews Air Force Base, we are making sure they get to the hospital right away for an assessment and treatment,” said Nita Hedreen, director of NHCL health care business.

The idea came from Capt. Daniel Zinder, commanding officer of NHCL, and retired Lt. Col. Timothy Maxwell, one of the founders of the Wounded Warrior Regiment.

Maxwell had mention to Zinder the desire for returning injured troops to be given more expedited access to hospital care. With that idea in mind, the hospital began studying the effect of recently-wounded troops being placed first in line for immediate care. The study resulted in the hospital averaging a total of five medically-evacuated troops with non-lethal injuries being treated per week, heralding a test-run to see how effective an immediate transition from touching down at the airport to the operating room would be.

Upon arrival in the states, wounded troops were picked up by an awaiting hospital shuttle with a corpsman ready to issue any preliminary care. Once at NHCL, the Marine or sailor is immediately seen by a doctor to evaluate the medical condition of the warrior and schedule any future appointments.

“Regardless of what they’ve come here for, they get front-of-the-line care privileges,” said Hedreen. “We will ensure every Marine and sailor gets the medical support they need, even after they have left the hospital.”

The test-run of the program proved successful as four wounded warriors arrived during a one-week period and were treated expediently without hindrance. This gave the green light for the program to be officially started, opening the hospital doors to quicker treatment on Nov. 15.

Zinder said the program will make it easier for doctors to fully understand whatever injuries have been sustained as well as making the troops feel more welcome throughout the process.

“It gives us great pride to put a program like this out,” he said.

For more information on the MEDEVAC Welcome Back program, call 450-4463.